Nick Dougherty’s Golf Foundation bringing golf to 32,000 schools


Sky Sports’ Nick Dougherty wants to bring golf to all schools in Great Britain and Ireland through Unleash Your Drive initiative; the Golf Foundation hopes to use golf to help children’s mental welfare

        Nick Dougherty's Golf Foundation bringing golf to 32,000 schools

The ‘Unleash Your Drive’ initiative has the ambition to help change the face of mental well-being in schools by introducing golf to children from all backgrounds, with stars such as Rory McIlroy backing the project

Sky Sports’ Nick Dougherty is launching a campaign to introduce golf to all 32,000 schools in Great Britain and Ireland.

The 41-year-old hopes a new campaign aimed at using golf to improve the mental wellbeing of school children will prove a “really meaningful” part of his post-playing career.

Dougherty was a member of the victorious Walker Cup team in 2001 and won three times on the DP World Tour, but the Sky Sports presenter is now a passionate advocate of golf’s benefits as president of the Golf Foundation.

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Speaking at the launch of the Unleash Your Drive initiative, which is inviting every school in Britain and Ireland to offer a “plug and play” six-week programme as part of their curriculum, Dougherty said: “What I did as a golfer doesn’t mean that much to me.

“I loved the game but my life has moved on. I just have a different perspective and something like this programme, I think I can hang my hat on that.

“I can be very proud of it because you’d be hopefully leaving something behind that wasn’t there before and that doesn’t always happen in our game.

“For everything that golf’s done for me I took from it as a player and I still take from it now, so there’s something really meaningful about being able to do something that gives something back.”

Unleash Your Drive is the culmination of five years of research and development that has been tested at primary and secondary school ages.

As well as introducing children to golf using plastic clubs and soft balls, the programme incorporates nine key mental toughness tools that have been proven to benefit the mental wellbeing of young people.

“Golf has that thinking space that other sports don’t have that allows you to tap into the mental side for kids at such an impressionable age,” added Dougherty, who is scheduled to speak to golf’s All Party Parliamentary Group about the initiative next month.

“Some of them will go away and never touch another club again, but I don’t really care. We’ll still have given them something from the game. We’re not selling golf, we’re using the game to help grow something better for kids.

“If we can give them some of the great things we know exist, some of the life skills that come from playing the game, the integrity, discipline, work ethic, camaraderie, being able to cope with anxiety and stressful emotions – we’re giving them skills for life.”

Schools can apply to access the programme via the Unleash Your Drive website and The Golf Foundation is offering fully-funded kit and resources to a number of schools assessed as needing such support.

The Golf Foundation is encouraging all golfers to enter monthly draws or fundraise for the initiative to earn one of 72 places in the Unleash Your Drive Final at Wentworth in August next year.

The three best performers in the final will earn a place in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am the following month.

Join Dougherty and the Sky Sports Golf team as the golfing world turns its attention to Wentworth this weekend live on Sky Sports.


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